Tag Archives: woollen mills

A Walk through Lanark Village in 1871



                                                            William Caldwell 1873

There is a large grist mill also a saw mill, both belonging to the firm of Caldwell & Son who engage to some extent in lumbering operations. The saw mill consumes from three hundred to four hundred logs in twenty four hours, and makes three million feet of lumber during the season. 

J. Dobbie is the proprietor of a foundry. He employs eight men, has an engine often horse powered, and makes-as many as ten stoves a week, besides casting for the mill and other machinery. He uses Scotch Pig Iron from the Eglington Smelting Works in Ayershire, and consumes about thirty tons a year.



Photo- Caldwell sawmill Carleton Place- where Riverside Park is now located-Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

Mr. Boyd Caldwell has the principal store in Lanark. He is also a partner in the firm of *Caldwell & Watchorn, the proprietors of a cloth factory. We were informed
that Caldwell also has a large saw mill at Carleton Place, which had a capacity of twelve
million feet of lumber a season.

Mr. *James Jackson, a man of penal disposition, imbed with the spirit of the age, and keenly alive to the necessity of developing the resources of the country, has a large farm near the village, an extensive saw mill at Innisville and lumber limits in Palmerston.


Miss Caldwell from Lanark 1881

We are in the warehouse of the cloth factory, and wool from all parts of the world, in huge bales, surrounds us–wool of the finest quality, yellow with the dust of Australian plains—and wool, from the Cape. We are in the washing, dyeing and drying department. We see the wool washed, and passed into a vertical cylinder, which, set in motion by centrifugal force, drives the wool against its circumference and presses the water from its fibres.

It is dyed, and piled on huge trays for drying, under which several revolving fans send through a continuous current of air. It is taken to an upper room and picked and oiled. We see it come down and spun and twisted and made ready for the weaving department.

Twelve of the best Crompton looms clash together with -deafening din, and skillful hands guide the threads, and feed the looms, and withdraw the empty shuttles; arid the pattern grows, and the fabric is perfected before our eyes. We see it sheared and dressed, and made ready for the market. It is all done in two mills fifty hands and twelve looms, and it is intended to add a third set during the approaching summer.



“Business Section, Lanark”–This Postcard picture was supplied by Melanie Mason 

It appears that this picture is looking North from the LCBO area, before the major fire in Lanark which destoyed many houses in 1959.

There are inexhaustible iron mines near the village, from which thousands of tons of red hematite are taken, drawn to Perth by teams, carried by rail to Brockville, and thence shipped to Cleveland and other American markets.

We were, on the whole, much pleased with the visit, and with the attention we received, and hope that coming years may develop the thriving village into a prosperous town.

CaldwellsLanark (1).jpg

Perth RememberedResidence and Mills of Boyd Caldwell, Lanark Ontario. Manufacturer of woollen goods and dealer in lumber and square timber.


Thomas Boyd Caldwell came from a business family. In Carleton Place his father had operated a sawmill while in Lanark Village the family operated a sawmill, a woollen mill and a general store.

After his father’s death in 1888, Thomas Boyd Caldwell continued to operate Boyd Caldwell & Co. in Lanark Village. In 1899 he expanded the business to include the woollen mill in Appleton and later he purchased a woollen mill in Perth.

Thomas Boyd’s oldest son Boyd A.C. Caldwell (1879-1949) helped managed the mills in Lanark while his second son Donald William Falconer Caldwell (born 1882) managed the woollen mill in Appleton.

Almonte Gazette Clipping: Lanark Village
4 November 1898
Lanark Village, Lanark County, Ontario, Canada

North Lanark Regional Museum, Almonte Gazette
*Thomas Watchorn, Esq. of Caldwell & Watchorn Mills, Merrickville, Ont. d.Dec. 10, 1879, Merrickville.Newspaper itemsshowed children:1. John Herbert d.Oct. 21, 1869 aged 9 months & 6 days (youngest son)
2. Sarah (eldest daughter) married Jan. 6 1876, Merrickville to E. H. Whitmarch, Esq.
3. Robert W. (eldest son) married Feb. 7, 1877 Eleanor A. Jackson of Drummond Twp. and they had: a. twin boys
born Nov. 18, 1877 Merrickville.b.daughter b.Aug. 16, 1879c.Son b. Aug. 23, 1881d.Susie 1884-1898
4. Susie Maria m.Sept. 19 1878, Merrickville, Charles Herbert Bower

*James JACKSON was born in 1787 in Aghowle Parish, Coolkeena, County Wicklow, Ireland. He died on 10 MAY 1867 in Innisville, Drummond Twp., Lanark Co., Ontario, Canada. He was buried on 11 MAY 1867 in St. Paul’s Cemetery, Lanark Villiage, Lanark Co., Ontario, Canada.

He was married to Sarah CUMMINGS (CHAMNEY?) in 1815 in Likely an Anglican Church in the Coolkenna area. Sarah CUMMINGS (CHAMNEY?) was born in 1782 in Vicinity of Coolkenna area, County Wicklow, Ireland. She died on 11 APR 1867 in Innisville, Drummond Twp., Lanark Co., Ontario, Canada. James JACKSON and Sarah CUMMINGS (CHAMNEY?)

Clip from the Almonte Gazette November 4, 1898, discussing the Caldwell mills in Lanark Village.

“A Thriving Village. A number of Almonters spent part of the past week in the village of Lanark, and all were impressed with the beauty and the solid appearance of that thriving burgh. No place in the district has made greater proportionate progress in the last decade than Lanark, and during the past summer not a few handsome residences have been erected, greatly improving the appearance of the place. While in the village the writer had the pleasure of a run through some of the mills, which are all busy. A specially interesting feature in the Aberdeen Mills is the carpet weaving department, a branch that proves attractive to every visitor. Mr. Caldwell has had a brisk business in the carpet line thus far, and it will doubtless expand with the coming years. The more pretentious mills of Messrs. Boyd Caldwell & Co. – famous for their high-grade tweeds, rugs, etc. – are running full time, with a good grist of orders ahead. On Friday night the local A.O.U.W. gave a concert to a packed town hall with a program equal to what is put on in the cities. Lanark people are proud of their village and its attractions, and stick to it most loyally. Right they are too.–
North Lanark Regional Museum, Almonte Gazette



Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News

Was Working in One of Our Local Mills Like Working in a Coal Mine?






About 4,000 weavers and artisans from the Scottish lowlands arrived in Lanark County around 1820. Because of the textile industry background of these settlers, Lanark County became the centre of the textile industry in eastern Ontario. Almost two dozen woollen firms once existed along the length of the Mississippi between Pakenham and Maberly. Carding (brushing/preparing) and fulling (scouring and thickening) mills augmented the wool industry and supported villagers in towns such as Clayton, Fallbrook and Maberly.


Almonte Mill-Photo-www.bytown.net

Letter to the Editor-Almonte Gazette 1879

Dear Sir,

Eleven hours of confinement in a factory is neither conducive to physical or mental
health, and surely both of these are of sufficient importance to be considered in the
decision of the question. I would therefore join in the appeal made to the employers of labour to assist in building up a strong physical and intellectual population in Almonte and Carleton Place. Let us relax the strain upon the one and affording more opportunity for the cultivation of the other, both of which objects would be secured by reducing the present fatiguing hours which make an employee’s day.

Textile Mill at Appleton, Ontario, Canada

Teskey Mills- Photo-www.bytown.net
Let our employers pass through the factories during the last hour of the present
day, and note carefully the many silent but expressive evidences that will surround
them. Nature has been and is strained almost to its utmost, and they will soon come
to the conclusion that the last hour cannot be a very profitable one.
Many of the employees are heads of families, and the early hour at which they leave
home and the late- one of their return prevent them seeing the younger
branches of their families oftener than once a week; thus the feeling of our nature
which should be the most carefully guarded and cherished, are stunted in their growth,
and harm is done to both parent of a child.



Hawthorne Mill Carleton Place

Some of us have bluntly introduced the wages question, but I think that may safely be left to the honor of the employers (and past experience proves that they are all honorable men) to be settled thus: -many of the employees work by the piece, and if, as contend, the reduction of the hours would not diminish the production, then it is evident there would be as great a demand upon the day hand; as now, and therefore having to do the same work, though in less time, they should be paid the same.

Perth Mill- Perth Remembered

In thus putting the matter I have appealed to the higher nature of the employers, but
still there is in us all a certain selfishness that is more likely to second an appeal of
this kind, it it can be shown that the parties making the change would not suffer by it,
and upon this point an ounce of fact is worth a ton of speculation.


A Friend


Photo by Linda Seccaspina –Mississippi Valley Textile Mill Museum

The writer, only known as ‘a friend’ was at one time in-charge of a manufacturer employing nearly one thousand, young and old in Scotland, and when he joined the hours were: six A. M. to seven P. M, with one hour for dinner.

After a short time he called the employer’s attention to the exhaustive nature of the employment, when kept up for so many hours. But as competition with other houses was keen, the employer was not willing to run the risk of reducing production. He however gave the writer liberty to try his views upon a small scale, and it was tried in this way:at nine and at four o’clock, twenty minutes recess were allowed.


Relate reading:

Babies in the Textile Mills

The Apple Does Not Fall far from the Tree — Virtual Tour of a Teskey Home

1844 Factory Act

R. W. Cooke-Taylor, the author of The Factory System was also an Inspector of Factories. In his book he explained the 1844 Factory Act.

The Factory Act of 1844 is an extremely important one in the history of family legislation. The Act reduced the hours of work for children between eight and thirteen to six and a half a day, either in the morning or afternoon, no child being allowed to work in both on the same day, except on alternate days, and then only for ten hours. Young persons and women (now included for the first time) were to have the same hours, i.e. not more than twelve for the first five days of the week (with one and a half out for meals), and nine on Saturday.

Certificates of age were to be granted in future only by surgeons appointed for the purpose. Accidents causing death or bodily injury were to be reported to these surgeons, who were to investigate their cause and report the result to the inspector. The factory was to be thoroughly washed with lime every fourteen months. A Register was likewise to be kept; in which were to be entered the names of all children and young persons employed, the dates of the lime-washing, and some other particulars. Certificates of school attendance were to be obtained in the case of children.